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Monday, February 24, 2014

I know it'll come back to bite me

Despite the fact that I'm relatively certain I'll regret the hell out of it and will wish I'd pushed myself to mark more assignments tonight, I don't have it in me. The decision to pack it in is dangerous, as I have an assessment meeting on Wednesday morning, and even though there aren't many students in advisement these days, there are just enough that I can't count on having a significant stint in which to mark things for Wednesday's class. I grant you, at the moment only five students from the Wednesday class actually turned in papers today, so no matter what I do today or tomorrow, I may well be scrawed (as my father would have said): if I get the bulk of the papers late tomorrow--which is possible--I'll have to scramble like mad to get them back to the students on Wednesday anyway.

Of course, the "bulk" I have yet to receive may not be many. Half the class was absent today, and half the students who were there hadn't turned in the first versions. I'm allowing them to turn submit something this round, even though all they'll get is a rubric sheet about editorial issues (I won't mark anything on their papers themselves, and I may I give general ideas about revision, but nothing beyond that)--but I have a feeling a number of them won't go for even that much.

I also realized that the original schedule tells them not to come to class on Wednesday--but if they miss any more class, they're the ones who are scrawed. I just sent another (completely ineffectual) e-mail telling them to ignore what it says on the schedule and come to class, but I'm getting a strong sense that the handful who were there today are pretty much it: I think most of the rest are gone, baby, gone.

As it happened, I didn't tear their heads off; I didn't ignore the problem; I didn't even talk about my dilemma. I simply said, "OK, here's the situation," and reminded them what's due when and how. I expect there will be repercussions for some time: students who are shocked (shocked, I tell you) to find out that they've completely missed the boat and are racking up zeroes like a pinball score--but I've truly done all I can do. In fact, I had a brief discussion with a student after class: he missed the first version--writer's block--and I'm as upset about the hit to his grade as he is: he seems like potential A material, but now the best he can get is a B. I told him that we'd see how things go the rest of the semester: if the only thing keeping him from an A is that missing first version, I'll try to figure out something that can replace it (perhaps having him revise the first paper at the end of the term). And there are a few others who were pretty surprised that I wasn't taking their first version just because it was over a week late.

As I thought that, I was reminded of a student who was going to drop off the hard copy of his paper on Wednesday before the break but who told me he couldn't make it until after I had to leave campus. His paper is on Turnitin but I never got the hard copy, so I never graded it. I think my reasoning was that he'd contact me if he wanted to revise it and I'd take it from there, but I wouldn't grade it without the hard copy. I have to double check my files at home, see if maybe I did comment on it--but I truly don't think so. I'm on the fence about whether to mark it tonight and get it to him or wait until I see him in class. I think the latter, even though the hyper-responsible care-taking Mommy in me wants to rescue him by providing comments, even at this late juncture, in hope that he'll get them in time to do even a quarter-assed revision. Then again, this is the student who said he didn't want to come all the way in from Queens just to submit his paper, so he hasn't demonstrated a whole lot of giving-a-shit, in which case, why should I get frantic about it?

In any event, if I'm going to get an early start tomorrow--and I truly do need to--I'd better get myself home tonight so I can start my very long wind-down process. I will be spectacularly grateful and relieved when this semester calms down--or is simply over. I'm not very happy dealing with the feeling of things coming unglued all around me, even though I can't do bugger all about it. Ain't my job to fix everything, but sometimes I'd give a hell of a lot for a magic wand....

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